• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Why Nigerian players flock to South African League – Nwabali


Super Eagles and Chippa United goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, has shed light on why many home-grown Nigerian players prefer moving to South African League and other African leagues instead of staying in the domestic league.

The 27-year-old, who plays in the South African league, had a standout performance at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, helping Nigeria secure a silver medal after losing the final to the host nation, Ivory Coast.

Nwabali joined Chippa United from Katsina United in 2022 and has played at every tier of local football in Nigeria, from non-league to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). He quickly rose to prominence after joining the Chilli Boys in the 2022/23 season, making a significant impact both domestically and across Africa.

Despite limited playing time in his first season, appearing in only nine games, Nwabali has become a starter this campaign with 27 appearances. He has conceded 26 goals but also kept 10 clean sheets.

In a recent interview with FARPost, Nwabali explained why South African players rarely move to Europe, using Ronwen Williams as an example.

“Ronwen Williams is at Mamelodi Sundowns. He gets everything he wants—he’s got the name, the sponsor, his family is here, everyone supports him, he’s the captain of Bafana Bafana, and the league is okay. The league pay is a little bit nicer depending on the level of your team,” Nwabali said, highlighting the financial incentives as the major reason players leave Nigeria.

In comparison to the NPFL, Nwabali revealed the pay gap between the leagues is astonishing, noting that money is the major reason players leave Nigeria without hesitation.

“It’s not like in West Africa where our leagues are not that good,” the former Enyimba goalkeeper added.

“We want to go to Europe, we want to go to South Africa, we want to go to Morocco—if your league is nice, there’s no point in you leaving.

“If your league is nice, you’re getting paid, you’re getting sponsors, what are you leaving for? If you want to challenge yourself, you can still leave.

“It depends on you—if you can cope there, fine; if you can’t, it’s fine to just come back and play your football.”

Nwabali‘s outstanding performance at the 2023 AFCON, where he kept four clean sheets and conceded only four goals in seven games, has made him the subject of transfer speculation. However, his comments suggest he is content with his current role at Chippa United in South Africa.